MANILA – The local government of Zamboanga City on Wednesday urged the Department of Health to set up a facility to test for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in their area.
Mayor Beng Climaco said on DZMM that they are relying on the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ C-130 mission to fly swabs to Manila to be tested at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM).
“Gina-gather po nila ang ating mga swabs pero sometimes ang problema because meron strict requirements and DOH, hindi po lahat ng mga PUIs (persons under investigation) namin na mga swab napapadala sa RITM sapagkat may criteria,” Climaco said.
She also lamented that it would take about a week before results are released and that not all swabs sent to Manila are accepted for testing.
Zamboanga City has so far 2 confirmed cases of the virus and 59 PUIs. Of the 2,381 persons under monitoring, 2,102 have been cleared.
Climaco said their city is centrally located around Sulu, Basilan and Tawi-Tawi. Recently, Climaco said they received over 200 internationally displaced Filipinos from Malaysia who are now under quarantine on Sibakel Island.
“Sana pakinggan ang aming ninanais to really have a testing facility available syempre we do not want to burden national government, the local government unit will purchase our own testing kits provided that we have a testing center here,” she said.
Health undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire welcomed Zamboanga City’s plan to have their own testing center.
“Open naman kami sa lahat ng ganitong efforts ng ating regions at local governments. But there’s a specific process,” Vergeire said.
The DOH spokesperson said that after identifying the hospital, the LGU should submit its self-assessment form so that the facility can be inspected.
Climaco also hopes that the DOH would recognize the Zamboanga City Medical Center as a COVID-19 referral facility.
“It is really the challenge for LGUs like us. We are the center and ito pong recognized hospital for COVID is in Zamboanga City,” she said.